In the past few days, I discovered some things about my past. I had not realized until now, just how bad my pre-K-12 education had been.
My first schooling was “half day” Kindergarten. I had no pre-K socializing classes.
Before first grade, I had fallen out of a tree in our yard and was knocked out. I was not seen by a doctor, though. I developed a speech impediment, stuttering and unable to say various words – typical of post brain injury expressive aphasia. But no one knew that then – and I spent about 18 months in speech therapy sessions in elementary school. My speech was so bad that some could not understand what I was trying to say.
At the start of sixth grade, I was riding my bike home from school when the front wheel of my bike hit a small pothole around a turn. I was knocked out with a 5″ long skull fracture on the left side of my head. While I was seen by the family doctor, for reasons unknown to me, I was not x-rayed until 5 days later, at an outpatient radiology clinic. The next day, my Mom was told I had fractured my skull. I was kept at home – by this time I was nauseous, vomiting, generally not communicating with others and not able to recognize people. Today, I would have been hospitalized. I have no idea what was going on back then and only know some of the story from what my late Mom had said, or what my siblings told me. I was never told about TBI – I was never offered treatments or therapies that are standard, today.
I had several more knock out blows as a young adult – blows that broke bike helmets and other bones. While seen by doctors, I was never told about TBI or head injury issues – many of which I subsequently encountered. In fact, my 4th knockout blow left me with a lot of long term TBI problems – while I was seen by a doctor, no one mentioned TBI to me. Incredibly, I had six head injuries, 5 with knock outs. Two doctors and one neuropsychologist have said “You are a miracle” (in those words or similar words).
After the skull fracture, I was out of school for an extended period and returned half days through at least January, possibly into February. Sixth grade is when students get their first exposure to World History. I didn’t get that. Trying to understand why I did not have any world history education led me to look back at my K-12 education.
Fast forward to 9th grade – that year I was sick, frequently, with a low-grade fever and general illness. Because of the fever, I was frequently kept home from school. Not until April did this get sorted out after I had a 104 deg F fever. As our family doctor was out of town, I was referred to a hospital ER. There, the lab confirmed a systemic Staph A infection (hence the fever the past six months), a lab confirmed influenza infection, and an x-ray confirmed pneumonia infection. I was out of school for another 3 weeks, and quite weak after that.
I was absent for one -third of my 9th grade year. That was the year I had U.S. history. So much for U.S. history!
Jump ahead to what remained of high school. For various reasons, that in retrospect were foolish, I was encouraged to leave high school one year early and go straight to college. Thus, I missed my 12th grade year of high school – technically I never graduated and do not have a high school graduation diploma! This is when I would have had the standard high school World history course (they did not have AP courses in those days). But I studied no history beyond my interrupted 9th grade U.S. history class and never had a world history course.
Looking back on this, I only realized – this week – that I missed one school year plus at least six additional months of K-12 education. With other likely absences, I literally missed two years of K-12 schooling.
By coincidence, this occurred at key years where history was emphasized.
Today I began studying World history in hopes of catching up. I have run across topics I had guessed at but had never heard of until hours ago – such as language networks. Since mid-2021, I have been reading books on international topics including European history, international business, study abroad programs and have been studying Norwegian and Spanish since July of 2021 (every day).
I have a lot of catching up to do.
Obviously, I had a bad family doctor from birth through the start of college. No appropriate treatment for a skull fracture – no mention ever of TBI until I was diagnosed decades later. Missed diagnosis of systemic Staph A at age 15, resulting in my ending up in an ER when he was away on vacation – because he had not set up someone to cover for him while he was away. I had never gotten an MMR vaccination either presumably because it slipped past my doctor. Last year, I looked into my vaccination record and found I had only polio and smallpox vaccines. I had measles, mumps, and chicken pox, as a kid, based on symptoms (no lab tests with “positive cases” in those days). A serology test in 2021 confirmed past measles – but not rubella – and thus, as an older adult, got my missing MMR vaccination. The only vaccinations I had as a kid were smallpox and polio. As an adult I am almost caught up – DTap, Influenza, 3x Covid, MMR, Shingrix and will get shot #2 of Twinrix (Hep A/B) next month, and then pneumonia this fall. By February of 2022, I will have had 7 vaccinations shots in the past 11 months. (Update – as of Sep 2022, I have had 11 vaccinations shots since Dec 2019 with one or two more yet to come!)
I never graduated from high school and do not have a high school diploma. I did go on to complete a BS in computer science, an MS in software engineering, and an MBA. I also paid 100% of all my own college tuition, fees and books. Looking back on this today, I am amazed I didn’t end up living on the streets. Geez.